How do you know if what you are waiting for is weakening your faith?
That’s right. I said weakening, not strengthening. I found some notes on a message at church from several years ago and I recall the pastor referencing some indicators of a weakened faith:
I recall at the time being able to identify with all five. All of them. There have been times that I’ve been discouraged in rejection, doubting if I’m relationship material, angry at the waiting, certainly envious of couples, and feeling helpless. Since then I have learned that almost everyone is waiting for something. While those feelings can be normal and you don’t have to be mad at yourself for feeling them, watch out for the consequences of those feelings. For me, I could admit that in waiting, my faith (trust in God’s plan) was greatly weakened. The pastor had cautioned us to watch out for being “spiritually tired”, suggesting that we are weak to sin when we are spiritually tired b/c we are not being watchful.
Through the years of being single, I have learned that our testimony is actually built in the waiting. God is doing something in us as we wait. The beautiful thing is that the key to strengthening your faith back up while you wait is in associating with other believers and feeding yourself with God’s word — spending time with Him. I search the bible for evidence of what He promises – and then I claim those things. The words literally strengthen my resolve and build my ability for patience.
So if God builds testimony in our waiting – and we have an opportunity to be strengthened, not weakened in our waiting, then God also directs our suffering and well, waiting is an aspect of my suffering. To illustrate: I recall learning that in the book of Job, God actually allows Satan to mess with Job. The second time this happens, Job’s faith and commitment to God is shaken up. Note that it wasn’t because Job did anything wrong to earn or deserve suffering, but God was not oblivious to it either. In the end, when Job realizes how his faith was negatively affected by his suffering, he admits “my ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” His faith is actually stronger after the suffering — knowing that God was sovereign in it. My faith is strengthened in knowing that when I’m suffering, it’s not because God forgot about me, but that He wants me to really see His plan in it.
This morning I was walking to my car from a coffee shop with my cup o’ joe, and I said to God: “what is your plan for me — seriously?”. His response was “I know the plans I have for you.” Not the answer I was looking for but I had immediate comfort. Again, my faith was strengthened because God isn’t trying to figure out the plans along with me. He already KNOWS them … and, they’re actually PLANS. He knows the plans He has for me, even if I don’t know the plans He has for me, and even if I question the existence of plans in the first place. Regardless of what I realize or don’t realize, the plans are there and He knows them. He says that I will seek Him and find Him when I seek Him with all of my heart.
What is my point you ask? Discouragement, Doubt, Anger, Envy & Inactivity/Slowing Down are all pretty negative regardless of if you are a Christian or not. I did feel weak because these were real feelings/situations/emotions that I was dealing with in my waiting. Admittedly, there have been times when I’ve allowed myself to be miserable in my own pity. However, what my faith does is it gives me the right perspective on the waiting. It gives me peace about it. It takes the responsibility & pressure off of me to ‘hurry up’ to what I am waiting for.
Take a second to identify anything that you are waiting on right now. What are you expecting to happen in your life that hasn’t yet? Usually, what you are waiting on is not within your control — be it jobs, children, or love. So … it’s your choice where you go to rebuild when you’re weak. I’m finding that my self-pity has been an unsatisfying selection. For now, I’m turning to Jeremiah 29:11.